Carbon Thieves Reflect Dean Koontz Plot Device

01/22/2011

I’m currently reading The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz, which is mostly about the author’s two favorite subjects: golden retrievers and Down’s Syndrome kids. It struck me as odd that while I read the part (albiet a small element) where a villain is involved in the lucrative market of stealing carbon emission permits, a phenomenon I had not heard of before, I had actually heard of it earlier today.

It’s by all means a new type of crime, and NPR has the story of thieves who made 40 million dollars worth of these permits. Some registry in Europe was broken into, and the pieces of paper that allow certain countries to have certain amounts of carbon emissions were stolen; these can now be altered to let countries who have spent their limits to go on emitting poisonous gases into the air. A very valuable commodity, indeed, if you have Lex Luthor as your governor.

“It is essentially an allowance,” says Henry Derwent, president of the International Emissions Trading Association. “This piece of paper allows my company to emit a ton of carbon dioxide through a combustion process.”

So that piece of paper has value. Companies that produce less carbon than they’re permitted can sell what’s left of their allowance to companies that produce more than they should. There’s actually a market where these allowances are traded electronically.

Over the past few months, but especially in the last week, criminals have been able to break into one of the registries where those carbon allowances were recorded and change who owns what.

Carbon allowances has now been suspended. Perhaps this will lead to more interest in wind energy?

Link (image by Griffin024)

 


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